Credit card fraud: It all boils down to good moral values

MADAM Chong Wee Yew was in a hurry to pick up her five-year-old son. After paying for her groceries, she left in a hurry, forgetting to pick up her credit card from the machine.

She only realised, much to her horror, that her credit card was not in its usual slot in her purse the next day.

However, she was relieved that “someone” had only misused her card for two transactions worth slightly below RM50 – one at the hypermarket where she lost the card, and the other at a nearby vendor.

But imagine the hassles she had to go through to apply for a new credit card and lodging a police report took another one hour of her time.

The shopping had to be cut short and her children were unable to purchase their new set of clothes for Christmas.

After lodging a police report, the investigating officer told her to bring along her police report to the hypermarket and seek permission to view the CCTV in the vicinity.

Most people would just allow the culprit to get away because it is a small amount, but Madam Chong and her husband Mr Lee decided that the culprit must be caught red-handed, and if necessary, handed over to the police.

Put on a run-around

Like good old Sherlock Holmes, Mr Lee made enquiries with the customer service staff about the transaction at the hypermarket. He was being told that the transaction with an amount closest to the figure involving her wife’s card had carried a different last four-digit number.

The hypermarket management would not allow anyone other than their own staff or the police to review the CCTV. It raised more suspicion.

They received a similar response from the other vendor. The same answer was given by the staff who said that his manager was off-duty on Christmas day. The couple was then told by both the hypermarket management and vendor to return the next day after the staff had reviewed the CCTV.

“For the hypermarket, it was just to buy time,” Madam Chong fumed.

“It was probably just to frustrate the complainant until they would drop the case,” added Mr Lee.

Insisting on getting to the bottom of it, the couple decided that after all, they had waited for over four hours, and the last thing they wanted to do was to return the next day. Persistence paid off.

Caught Red-Handed

The police investigating officer was contacted to conduct a full investigation. Within less than half-an-hour, Chong received two videoclips, one of which caught the culprit red handed.

And the culprit was none other than the customer service counter at the hypermarket – the very same one who had handled Madam Chong and Mr Lee’s enquiries!

The moral of the story is that Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) is a crime, and no matter how small the amount, one will get caught eventually.

While the couple sympathised with the staff, the hypermarket management was less forgiving and decided to sack the staff.

“It could have been worse if we had decided to hand her over to the police,” said Mr Lee. “At our request, the investigating officer called her to give her a stern warning not to do it again.”

Based on his analysis of the CCTV footage, Mr Lee said when the culprit had scanned the card, she had held the side showing the name of the card owner facing downwards to avoid detection.

“This is not the usual practice unless one is trying to hide the identity of the card,” he said. “Besides, she used the card twice, and on small amounts of RM20 plus. In both instances, she used Wave and Pay.”

The hypermarket has a procedure that staff were supposed to follow, but someone had apparently failed to follow the process. “This is another weakness that should be fixed,” Mr Lee added.

“The way the staff reacted during the discussion raises questions about whether such incidents could have happened one too many times and because no one had pursued the matter, the management might even not be aware of it.”

Although the money was returned to Madam Chong, including RM50 for card replacement, Mr Lee expressed hope that the authorities will do something to tighten the regulations when it comes to contactless payments.

“It is easy for stolen credit cards to be abused as in this case,” he said. “Or else, in the case of CBT, the credit companies should be told to pay for the lack of security measures.” – Dec 28, 2023


Editor’s note: Read the second part of this story tomorrow on former trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s advice and how the advice remains relevant to this day.


Main pic credit: Getty Images

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